Smoothwall Firewall project

Thursday 12 November 2009

Moving a Jumpbox virtual appliance from Xen to VMware ESX

We had a server failure here yesterday , which was a standalone Redhat Xen virtual server with a few non critical applications on, thus the single server. While we were waiting for HP to get a new motherboard delivered I decided we needed to get our Wiki back and running quickly, and the only available virtual server was one running VMware ESXi.

When you download a Jumpbox appliance it comes ready to run on several types of virtual environment, but VMware ESX is not one of them. It happily supports VMware workstation or server, but the filesystem on ESX is different.

There are two ways to convert the virtual image, the easy way or the hard way, both work.

The easy way is to download the VMware converter utility which basically takes the uncompressed virtual appliance you downloaded, and automagically uploads it to your ESX host , if you have it on line. You can just convert the appliance and upload it yourself later if you prefer.

Job done. I could then get on with setting the IP address of the virtual machine back to it's original setting and restoring from backup it's complete configuration and data. Took about 20 minutes, but you would need to factor in the size of your appliance, the speed of your network and the size of the backup. That is one of the great things about Jumpbox virtual machines, their backup and restores are a nailed on perfect solution and have worked here everytime. We happen to use an NFS mount on our NAS server, but you can back up to Amazon EC2 if you were web connected.

The second way , is to manually upload the virtual appliance files to the ESX datastore, and then run the vmfstools from an ssh shell. Setting up the shell on ESXi is a job in itself, go here or here for more info.

There is a detailed article on doing this here.

I think you will agree that using the converter tool is just a little easier ;-).

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